Friday, July 25, 2014

Inspired by Ansel Adams, Inspired by Aperture: Complementary Exhibits at the Museum of Photographic Arts

by Joe Nalven

The Museum of Photographic Arts / MOPA in Balboa Park is running two exhibits that complement each other. Both use an inspirational perspective as a way to jump start a conversation about the connections between contemporary photographers and what photography was about over the past half-century or so.  

To honor Aperture's 60th anniversary as a photographic journal, the Aperture Remix project selected contemporary photographers to "respond to Aperture publications that have been influential in forming their work, paying them artistic homage."

The resulting imagery, according to the curator, Lesley A. Martin, is designed to "reflect the multifaceted and elastic nature of contemporary photography." 

While one can agree with Martin's observation of the 'multifaceted and elastic nature of contemporary photography,' it is best to consider his selection to be just one of many possible exhibits in order to avoid a premature narrowing of what is 'contemporary.'    

Featured Artist
Who/What They Are Remixing
Rinko Kawauchi
Sally Mann
Vik Muni
Edward Weston
Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs
Aperture essay books
Martin Parr
Aperture magazine issue 103
Doug Rickard
Stephen Shore
Viviane Sassen
Edward Weston
Alec Soth
Robert Adams
Penelope Umbrico
Masters of Photography series
James Welling
Paul Strand

Penelope Umbrico (Detail from Moving Mountains)

Penelope Umbrico / Moving Mountains

Donna J. Wan /  In the Fog (Haleakalā National Park, Maui)

Rinko Kawauchi was inspired by Sally Mann’s Immediate Family (permission was not available to show Mann's image of two young girls talking to each other, The Pairing of Youth)

Taiyo Onorota, Nico Krebs / Book Cam

The concurrent exhibit, After Ansel Adams, presents a range of photographic imagery of the national parks of the American West. The images flow "from traditional landscape photography to conceptual work that captures the magnitude, essence, and history of each specific place, every artist brings a unique sensibility to these familiar landscapes."  

This curation of Ansel Adams inspired imagery is quite different from last year's exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Natural History ─  On the Trail of Ansel Adams.  Two such different photographic exhibits inspired by Ansel Adams illustrates how many ways one can compose the meaning of contemporary photography. 

The photographers in the MOPA exhibit, in addition to Ansel Adams, are Mark Klett & Byron Wolfe, Binh Danh, Chris McCaw, Donna J. Wan, Michael Lundgren, Millee Tibbs, Matthew Brandt, and Takeshi Shikama. 

The exhibit was curated by Chantel Paul with the major donor support of UC Health Systems. 

Millee Tibbs / Mountains + Valleys, Origami Yosemite #4
Matthew Brandt / Cake Icing

MOPA/QR Code, Binh Danh

After Ansel Adams continues through September 28, 2014.   

Aperture Remix continues through October 5, 2014. 

If you are interested in seeing the results of a curated, invitational exhibit, take a look at the well-crafted book, Staking Claim. 

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